Skip to main content

Full text of "My country and my people"

See other formats

marked enlightenment of the people, in the western sense, to constitute a powerful growth of public opinion in China, and that the political training of the entire people during the war and the active participation of all classes in the services of national defence will further strengthen and deepen that organized public opinion, upon which democracy in the last analysis depends. Modern public opinion will be better organized and better protected by a constitution than the old "voice of the people" and the "channels of speech" for the people to reach the Emperor, which it was the ideal of a good government in ancient China to "keep open." The constitutional protection of the people's civil liberties, if carried outs will work a fundamental change in the people's psychology and public attitude and transform the passive, indifferent Chinese people into a socially and politically active people, as I have carefully pointed out in my analysis of the origin of Chinese "indifference." (pp. 45-49.) Frankly, the prospect of 400,000,000 meek Chinese people learning to be "cocky" and "stand on their rights" rather confuses and frightens me.
But, best of all, the old, humanistic Chinese philosophy of reasonableness will prevent the nation from rushing into extremes of action and ideology. Liberalism will not be dead in the West and liberalism will not be dead in China. Of this I am confident. After all, Chinese humanism and the spirit of reasonableness are the greatest assets of the Chinese nation. It is this spirit which makes Chiang Kaishek less of a dictator than the dictators in Europe, and which guarantees that the methods of autocracy and the secret police, when applied to the people of China, will always be doomed to failure. It is this spirit which tempered the old, absolute monarchy and made it impossible for Chinese to regard their emperors as semi-divine or superhuman beings, for we have chopped off the heads of too many kings and emperors in the last twenty-two dynasties to believe that they are descendants of a mythical Sun Goddess. It is this spirit which humanizes our gods and makes us play tricks with them, believing that even the gods must be human and reasonable, and that there is no god that is too much of a god. A fifth-century folk story tells of a farmer arguing the God of Thunder into submission as his thunderbolts